Nature and scope of environmental geography
Nature and scope of environmental geography
Environmental geography, one of the branches of geography, is the study of interlinkages between human and natural systems. This discipline comes in parts of human geography and physical geography. It generates new understanding of the ways the environment and human society are intertwined. Understanding the way human societies conceptualize the environment, geology, meteorology, hydrology, biogeography, ecology, and geomorphology is important to environmental geography. The studies from environmental geography provide a critical set of analytical tools for assessing the impact of human presence on the environment by measuring the result of human activity on natural landforms and cycles. (Wikipedia) This area of geography has seen very ardent interest and growth in the last few decades because of the acceleration of human induced environmental degradation.
Environmental geographers are familiar with how natural systems function, but they also know that humans are a dominant agent of change in nature. They realize that it is not possible to understand environmental problems without understanding the physical processes as well as the demographic, cultural, and economic processes that lead to increased resource consumption and waste. Environmental geographers fan out along a variety of academic paths, and these paths will cross, mingle, or converge with those of other disciplines. By its very nature geography is a discipline that seeks to integrate and synthesize knowledge. Therein lays its strength. The geographer’s world is your world: it is the earth as the home of humans. (Concordia University)
Environmental geographers ask a diverse set of questions such as:
· Can the global environment cope with anticipated population growth?
· What will be the extent and impact of global warming?
· Should we protect tropical forests and why are they being destroyed?
· What causes famine and why do people die from it?
· Should we allow Hydro Quebec to dam the rivers entering James Bay?
Much of what happens in our daily lives is influenced by events beyond our ‘local world’ – events often beyond our borders and outside the control of our national governments. As the world’s nations and environment become more interdependent, the need to understand how our lives are interconnected across the globe increases. With it the role of geography and employment opportunities for geographers will continue to grow. (Concordia University)
Two areas are growing rapidly at the moment, creating hundreds of new jobs: Geographic Information Systems and Environmental Studies. Maps are the basic tools geographers use to present information. Computers have revolutionized mapmaking and placed geography on the forefront of research. Many employers are looking for people trained in high-tech sub-fields such as computer assisted cartography, remote sensing and GIS. Environmental problems have become the concern of government officials and citizens alike. Because of catastrophes involving toxic waste, air and water pollution, loss of biodiversity and habitat, and soil erosion, great care is now being taken to monitor the delicate balance between nature and the human use of the earth. Every major project now requires an assessment of its social and environmental impact, creating a large demand for geographers able to integrate the work of specialists in both the social and natural sciences. (Concordia University)
The future of Environmental Geography is huge. From natural disasters like the current earthquake and tsunami that happened in Japan to finding alternate sources of energy, environmental geographers have a future. National Geographic featured an article on Fuel Cells which was featured in Ohio Wesleyan’s Environmental Geography magazine. National Geographic reported:
Fuel cells can power almost any portable device or machine that uses batteries. Unlike a typical battery, which eventually goes dead, a fuel cell continues to produce energy as long as fuel and oxidant are supplied. Laptop computers, cellular phones, video recorders, and hearing aids could be powered by portable fuel cells.
Fuel cells have strong benefits over conventional combustion-based technologies currently used in many power plants and cars. They produce much smaller quantities of greenhouse gases and none of the air pollutants that create smog and cause health problems. If pure hydrogen is used as a fuel, fuel cells emit only heat and water as a byproduct. Hydrogen-powered fuel cells are also far more energy efficient than traditional combustion technologies.
An environmental geographer’s interest in this is that it is the future of sustainability.
Concordia University. Environmental Geography. Department of Geography, Planning & Environment. Retrieved 24 May, 2011 from http://gpe.concordia.ca/programs/bsc_eg/
Environmental geography. Retrieved 24 May, 2011 from http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Environmental_geography
Fuel Cells. National Geographic Online. Retrieved 24 May, 2011 from http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/fuel-cell-profile/
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